CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

‘We are very sad’: Portuguese family of gun murder victim Wilson Varela left devastated

A post-mortem o gave the cause of death as gunshot wounds to the chest

12 September, 2019 — By Samantha Booth

Wilson Varela worked in a shoe shop in Camden Town

DETECTIVES have turned to the public for help as they hunt killers who carried out an ass­assination-style shooting in Kentish Town during a bloody night of devastating violence.

The appeal is part of a murder inquiry, one of two opened by police as emergency teams were called to separate fatal incidents within 15 minutes of each other.

Wilson Varela, 24, died after being shot at the corner of Malden Road and Prince of Wales Road shortly before midnight on Sunday.

In an unconnected but also fatal incident in nearby Belmont Street, mother-of-one Shakira Mercedes, 22, was declared dead at the scene after being stabbed.

A post-mortem on Tuesday gave the cause of death as gunshot wounds to the chest.

As the increasingly familiar scene of forensic tents being erected was replicated in streets just a stone’s throw from each other, there was fresh soul-searching over how to end attacks which have led to a series of deaths in Camden and surrounding areas over the past couple of years.

The killings came just a day after the community bonhomie of an anti-violence festival in Queen’s Crescent. Council leader Georgia Gould, who has commissioned a taskforce to look at ways to tackle rising youth violence in Camden, reacted by saying deaths on the streets could not be allowed to become normal.

There are fears that some young people could be becoming desensitised after a video of Mr Varela’s final moments was shared in the area on Whatsapp and Snapchat groups.

Detectives believe Mr Varela was ambushed by a moped driver and pillion passenger, who may have been hiding in nearby Marsden Street shortly before the shooting.

Mr Varela, who worked in a shoe shop in Camden Town and lived in east London, had moved from Portugal to Manchester before deciding to come to the capital. Elaina Gomez-Ferraera told the New Journal, with the help of translation from a relative, that her grandson was “a good guy, who was very funny”.

She said: “We are very sad.”

Police had not made an arrest when the New Journal went to press late last night (Wednesday) and have sent a direct message to the public that they could play a key role in helping to establish the sequence of events.

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Stancombe said: “Everything we have found out so far points to this being a drive-by shooting. We know that just before midnight a moped with a rider and pillion passenger drove north on Malden Road before waiting in Marsden Street for a short period of time.”

The moped then drove back down Malden Road before turning into Prince of Wales Road by the Fiddler’s Elbow pub. Although it can be seen in the background of pictures of officers conducting a fingertip search, the pub is not linked to the incident in any way. DCI Stancombe added: “The suspects then produced a firearm and shot the victim at close range. “Forensic analysis and review of CCTV footage continue apace but we need witnesses to come forward.”

A police cordon was in place on Monday, later extended as officers got down on hands and knees for a detailed search for evidence. They also in­spected drains.

The New Journal asked the Met why this was happening later in the day and after traffic had already been allowed to pass through for several hours, but did not receive a response. In their appeal for witness, investigators en­couraged anybody with dash-cam footage to come forward.

DCI Stancombe said: “Were you there? Did you hear or see anything suspicious? Did you see a moped matching the description making off? Did you see the moped and riders waiting in Marsden Street? My team are ready to take your call.”

He added: “We are particularly keen to hear from the occupants of a Toyota Prius, a Ford Focus and motorbike seen in the area at the time. Passing motorists with dash-cam footage that captured parts of what took place are also being sought. Please do come forward with any information you have. It could prove vital to identifying those involved and bringing them to justice.”

The Met already has an unsolved murder inquiry dating back to April 1 when 22-year-old Calvin Bungisa was set upon in Vicars Road, Gospel Oak. Officers have tried to break through a wall of silence as they seek to identify up to four masked killers who had been seen carrying knives.

The New Journal that week published its “We Know What Will Happen Next” front page, which opened a debate over whether it now felt inevitable that more young people would die on the streets unless meaningful action was taken.

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 0208 358 0200 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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